January 31, 2011


As much as I talk, and as many people as I talk to, I pick up on verbal tics fairly easily. We all have them, the "ums" and "uhs" that are our go-to time fillers in conversation.

It's a breeze to note others' chatting habits: An old roommate said "craaazy" as a mindless comment during lulls; it was as much a catchphrase as Paris Hilton's "that's hot." A dear friend says "anywayyy" several times before she wraps up a call.

It's tougher to catch your own tics, to pick up on your verbal "fall backs" in conversation. (It's also difficult to discern when you're using your "phone voice," something that makes B laugh out loud. Evidently I speak in a syrupy sweet tone to strangers on the phone. Who knew?)

I've noticed a few "Anne-isms" lately. It makes me grit my teeth to read these, something like hearing your voice on an answering machine, but I'll share all the same:

1. Can we talk about how...
"Can we talk about how I just burned my chicken pot pie?" "Can we talk about how this cold weather makes me want to wear yoga pants all day?" "Can we talk about how the doctor just rescheduled my appointment for the third consecutive time?" Fascinating tidbits, all.

2. Well, the good thing about that is...
My instinct, upon hearing any remotely negative piece of news, is to find some semblance of a silver lining. This has to get annoying when people are genuinely upset, but it pops out before I know it. "Well the good thing about your car being stolen is you weren't in it! You're safe and you get a brand new ride!" Cringe.

3. Y'ALL.
This is more of an exclamation, total filler when I'm far too flustered or excited to elaborate. As in: "Y'ALL. (gasps for air) You'll never guess who I just saw!" or "Y'ALL. (long, lip-smacking pause) Can we talk about these shrimp and grits?"

4. Perfect, perfect.
This would be my trademark a la "that's hot." I utter it entirely without thinking, in place of yes, okay, all right, sounds good or anything close to agreement. "You want to meet at 8? Perfect, perfect. Italian? Perfect! We'll pick you up. Perfect." I'm sure B has heard my half of a phone conversation more than once that has consisted entirely of "perfect."

5. You've got to be kidding me.
I reserve this for anything that wakes me in the middle of the night, requires me to walk half-dressed into the cold, costs me lots of money or makes me skip a meal. The worse an event is, the more emphasis on the "got." B must hear this incessantly on my bad days.

What do you say repeatedly, without thinking? Any you-isms?

January 27, 2011

Little Bookworm

I can't lay claim to the blue eyes on this boy. I can't take credit for his light hair. I can only vaguely pat myself on the back for his burgeoning vocabulary.

His love for books, though, is another story entirely.

Growing up, my parents made a "no reading at the table" rule; otherwise I'd keep my eyes glued to a captivating chapter, passing up real life conversations with my family. (Unthinkable for this loudmouth, right?)

Give me a book long enough and I could survive a roadtrip anywhere. Looking out the window is for sightseers; I prefer a page.

Mac might wish otherwise when he realizes it's "uncool," but he loves to "read" already.

I like to watch him point at pages of dogs and babies and big red balls and tell me what they are. I love his ability to "speed read" by flip-flip-flipping through stories he already knows. I laugh when he carries one in his lap as we run errands, leaving his blankey behind for the comforts of a favorite board book.

I am comforted that, no matter whom he looks like, this child with his nose in a book is mine. And that bookworminess? It came from me.

Happy reading, Mac-Mac.

January 26, 2011

A Compliment for the Ages

After yesterday's whine-fest, where I convinced myself I was totally underwater and might not come up for air, I stopped to think about how great my life is, how very blessed I am.

I heard recently that we should take the phrase "have to" out of our vocabulary and replace it with "get to."

I get to clean and organize my warm, safe home. I get to fold and put away the many clothes we're fortunate enough to own. I get to create a menu for the week and make meals for my precious family. What a spin on my to do list!

While I was thinking positively, I recalled some of the sweet things that have been said to me in my life. (This makes it easier to convince myself I'm not a total hot mess. Someone loves me, after all!)

I asked my friends this once before and loved hearing others' favorite compliments, too.

My most meaningful compliments haven't changed since then, but I'd add a few to the list now:
1. B told me he couldn't imagine a better mom for his son.
2. My dad told me he was proud of me. (He has said so plenty, but this was at a particularly tough moment.)
3. Mac squeals when I walk into a room. From time to time he blows me unsolicited kisses, which say more than anything to me.
4. People say my handsome little monkey favors me, though they must just mean his tendency to yell "Hey!" at strangers.

On busy days or rainy ones, it picks me up to remember sweet moments like those. So, what is the sweetest compliment anyone has ever paid you?

January 25, 2011

My Life In Numbers

Strewn around my backseat:
3 empty sippy cups
2 self-feeder bowls (contents: only Cheerio crumbs)
4 books for my read-on-the-go toddler
1 diaper bag
897* crushed Cheerios
17,321* chocolate lab hairs
1 Mac-sized hoodie
1 Clemson blanket for chilly trips
2 Angel Dear lovies (current faves: green frog and white lamb)

Scattered in our bedroom:
9* unfolded loads of clean laundry in a mountain
6 unread child-rearing books
4 Bibles
5 Bible study guides
3 long-untouched "read when I have free time" works of fiction
2 pairs of boots
2 pairs of ballet flats
eleventy-billion scarves

On a corner of my kitchen counter, right next to my "keep organized" filing rack:
321* unsorted coupons
17* unopened insurance Explanation of Benefits
Countless bills, invitations and announcements
February magazines
Catalogs I should toss but won't 'til I "look through" them
FSA receipts
Business expense receipts
Verizon phone refund paperwork
Drugstore refund paperwork
Assorted photos

1 giant grocery trip to make (to fill 1 very empty pantry);
1 meal to make for a sweet family with a new baby;
1 overdue oil change;
1 contract to finish;
1 PR plan to finalize;
2 press releases to write;
2 days until until I leave for a meeting in Charleston Thursday night, therefore:
2.5 days until my in-laws come to play with Mac while B works Friday;
3.5 days until my parents come to play with Mac while B and I have his birthday "date day" and attend a couples' shower;
4.5 days 'til our crazy Sunday, where we're away from 8:45 'til 1:15, then 3:45 to 6:15;
5.5 days 'til we start a new, busy week;
4 booked weekends in a row;
5 Saturdays until we can spend one on the sofa in pj's again.

Whew. Bottom line: I fail at life today. Too much paper, too many "things" sitting around, too much to do altogether. And my backseat is a Cheerio graveyard! I am officially that girl. Today's one big redeeming factor: I squeezed in an hour at the gym.

My life, as a whole, is wonderful, but 2011 is not starting off to be my most seamless, organized, paper-free, pared down year. My datebook is all that's keeping my head attached to my body!

Tomorrow I will be cleaning, writing, calling, cleaning more, organizing, story-reading, baby-wrangling and altogether busy busy busy to catch up. (In-law and parent visits motivate me to get my house in tip-top shape!) I need to knock something out of the ballpark to feel a bit better about this week.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

*These numbers are approximate. To ensure you really understand how dire the situation is, double them for full effect.

January 24, 2011

My Mullet Baby

I know Mac is growing up. I hear his vocabulary expanding, I see his awareness of his surroundings grow, I watch him move and gesture in ways he never could have months ago. I even fight the urge to reason with him when he shakes his head no - he's growing, but he's not an adult, after all.

I say all this to prove I'm not in total denial that his "baby" stage is behind us.

I am, however, dragging my heels on one tangible act of letting go: cutting his hair. He's 15 a half months old and his hair has yet to be cut.

Thankfully, Mac had hair from day one - not much at first, but it has filled in considerably, especially in the back. (He's experiencing a little male pattern baldness up top, but it's pretty adorable.)

Mac's hair has grown in a way that made it look cut; it lay neatly across the back of his neck, growing in a straight line and shaping nicely around his ears. It looked for months as though he'd already paid a visit to the barber.

Mullet Baby-Style

Lately, though, my neatly groomed little guy has become a mullet baby. The back of his hair has a particularly full tuft that can look like (eep!) a rat tail when left untamed.

If I perform the patented Mac-tastic combover and brush his hair up and to the side, it sweeps everything back into business-like order. These days even that looks a bit unkempt.

It might be time to face the music and take Mac in for a trim. Does his combover vaguely resemble Donald Trump's, albeit slightly less icky?

Macky "Combover" Trump

I just need one last vestige of infancy, Macky. And considering your response (shaking your head no and laughing) when I asked for a kiss today, I think your uncut hair might be all I have.

Off to the barber we go? Or maybe I'll hold out just a little longer...

How old were you at your first haircut? And have you held out on your baby's the way I have?

January 21, 2011

Things I Adore But Probably Shouldn't

1. Extra-large to go cups of CFA sweet tea. Or Diet Dr Pepper if the calorie-free mood strikes me.
2. Delicious afternoon naps.
3. Cake for breakfast.
4. Singing loudly in the car - never the shower.
5. Imitating every half-word, half-babble Mac makes for twenty minutes at a time. It makes him feel so important to hear his "thoughts" repeated back to him!
6. Drinking anything out of champagne glass. I bet even Theraflu would be tasty that way.
7. Looking at other women's engagement rings.
8. eBay. Times a thousand.
9. Talking about celebrities as if I know them. (Sandra deserves so much better than Jesse, anyhow. Who cares if he's engaged again so quickly? I hope she doesn't bat an eyelash.)
10. Eating pizza hours after a workout. (Logic has never been my strong suit.)
11. Checking the mail. Checking my email. Checking Twitter.
12. Stationery, thank you notes, I love you notes and "just because" notes.
13. Cooing at babies who don't belong to me. (This is not a new phenomenon; I was probably still in a stroller myself when I started doing this.)
14. Subscribing to magazines and reading only half of the ones I receive.
15. Saying "Perfect" instead of "Ok." For instance: "How about we meet at noon?" "Perfect!"

Do you have any habits you really need to break? Guilty pleasures that are just too fun to give up? Am I the only girl who hits the high notes with T. Swift behind the steering wheel?

January 20, 2011

Come On, Spring!

It's barely late January and I'm already wishing for spring, rooting for that groundhog and soaking up every moment of sunshine that slips into my window.

I've seen more snow in the last month than the last several years combined, and I am 100% over it - no doubt about it.

As unhappy as gray weather, snow, ice, scary driving conditions, numb fingers, high power bills and the entire month of January usually makes me, though, there is something to be done about it! Enter the "snow day shopping list."

While most of your neighbors are stocking up on ground beef, milk and bread, make your cozy snow-getaway happen by stashing the following in your pantry pre-blizzard:

1. Magazines galore. Shape will inspire you to do crunches during your winter-weather days off, while Southern Living will have you rearranging your living room in no time, thus filling hours of your "I'm 'snow' bored!" down time.

2. Marshmallows, hot chocolate mix, apple cider and spices. And a few beautiful, special occasion mugs. (Self-explanatory.)

3. Cookies. I don't buy sweets because they have a tendency to "disappear" mysteriously - usually into my tummy. On snow days, however, I treat myself with the yummy vanilla cream cookies served as Sunday School snacks in the 90s. No wonder, too - they're cheap!

4. Netflix or several seasons of a TV show on DVD. B and I got sucked into Prison Break earlier this month. The evenings flew by, with nary a snow-thought in sight.

5. Catalogs of warm weather clothing. For when you just need a fix of sunshine. Think Lilly Pulitzer.

6. Bubbly beverage makings: white wine spritzers, maybe a Corona with lime for your gentleman, champagne, pina colada, or any other favorite summer libations. Sounds crazy, but it helps to think warm, think indulgent, think "this won't last forever!"

7. The coziest blanket ever. Reserve it for the month of January, so it feels like an extra treat when those sheets of icy come calling.

8. A gallon of syrup. (What are you going to use all that milk and bread for, if not French toast?)

9. Chili or chicken soup makings. Plop it in a crock pot, tear yourself away from your Netflix marathon to bake a few corn muffins and voila! Warmth from the inside out. Follow promptly with six Sunday School cookies and two white wine spritzers. Perfect evening!

What else would you include in your blizzard stockpile? More sweets? Ingredients for a homemade pizza? Stretchy yoga pants to accomodate all the couch-sitting, TV-watching and cookie-eating you'll be doing?

Here's hoping we don't have to worry about this again for years to come, but it never hurts to be prepared.

In the meantime, here's to dreaming of Easter dresses, seersucker and sunshine!

January 18, 2011

Our Growing Mac

I wouldn't say January has been my best blogging month to date - would you?

I'm beyond tardy on my monthly Mac posts, but I'm going to write about these last few months anyway. This virtual baby book is one of the only ways I can look back and visualize our teething, toddling little man as a newborn.

I know one day I'll look back on him now and think he was just a baby, but today he seems far too grown up for my liking.

I'm going to wrap up Mac's 14 and 15 month posts into one; before I know it (read: two weeks) he'll be 16 months old and leaving this old milestones in the dust.

At his 15 month well visit, Mac was 26.4 pounds (74%) and 32" tall (82%). He's a milkaholic (cue this commercial) and may well turn into a Cheerio one of these days. As far as his toddler-sized palate, it hasn't expanded to include the likes of actual fruits and vegetables. He'll eat any baby food in a jar, however unusual the concoction, but he sticks to a fairly bland diet now that he's moved past his Gerber days.

We go through quite a bit of yogurt, cheese, turkey, bread, Cheerios and bananas, but Mac hasn't taken a liking to much "grown-up" food besides Fritti pizza (anyone care to "import" this for us?), muffins, sweets, breads, carbs and anything fed to him by a grandmother. We're working on it!

At 14 months, Mac picked up a delightful trick that lasted three or four heavenly weeks. If you handed him his blankies and asked him to "snuggle snuggle," he'd plop his sweet head right onto your chest and burrow his face there for ages. It was to die for! Sadly, he out grew that by Christmas and has moved on to the head shaking "no" sign when you ask for snuggles now. Tear.

At 15 months, he has a total of 18 words in his vocabulary and uses them frequently. His favorites, as always, are "cup," "daddy," "dog," and "blankie." Nary a "mama" in the mix, either. Double tear! I know one day I'll hear "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" on constant repeat, but today is not that day.

He also uses the signs for "please" and "more" when the mood strikes him. I'm working to have him use "please" consistently so that when he can vocalize his requests, they aren't little cave man shouts of "Milk! Blankie! Cheerios! More!" Never too early to practice your manners, right?

We applaud him mightily after each "please," so he's been doing this more often. Last night, while playing with B, he did the "please" sign for no reason. B said, "I'm looking for something to give him! Hurry! He said please!" What a genteel young monkey.

He has cut two more teeth, little nubbins up top, and it looks like one more might be on the way. For now, his four teeth are making him look more grown up by the day.

Mac is picking up new tricks, too, the little ham. He loves applause and does just about anything to get it - lately he'll point to his eyes, ears, mouth, nose, cheeks, hair, head, tummy and shoes if you ask. He'll fake getting the "chills" if he hears you say the word. (This one concerned his Mimi on her last visit - he was shivering and grinning like a bandit!)

He loves to narrate things as we drive or pass by them, pointing out any and everything he knows. Even if he can't find the exact word, he approximates: "Kitchen" (or plate or soup or pizza) becomes "hot!" with a little blowing motion to "cool" it off. Outside (or window or coat) becomes "cold!" and a little shiver. What a silly, smart boy!

Naptime still requires Mac's beloved blankies. (I give Angel Dear blankies as gifts all the time now, because we have half a dozen and are obsessed!) Mac requests two blankies now, one for each hand - and who am I to question such a good sleeper? He's still in bed at 7:30 each night and usually wakes up sometime before 8:00. He takes one two-hour nap in the afternoons.

Our front-heavy (read: giant belly!) Macky took his first solo steps in December but has yet to take off running. He's becoming more nimble, however, at navigating his way around the roadblocks we put up to keep him safe. He can maneuver his way in and out of rooms, up and down sofas and stairs, over bathtub edges and around most anything. If there's something he wants to get into, he'll find a way!

What I've loved most about these months has been watching his awareness of the world increase. I love his easy, social nature with strangers and his curiosity at new things.

I love that he hears a key in the door and yells "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" until B's face is in sight. I love that he asks for his Daddy when I get him out of the crib in the morning and that he clasps his hands together for his "night-night" prayer with us each evening. (Want to see me cry? Have my toddler bow his head and put his hands together to pray. It's beyond precious.)

I love seeing him blow kisses and giggle and grin - and even seeing him hide his face in a fake tantrum when he hears the word "no." Everything is over the top wonderful or end of the world terrible to him, and it's quite the ride to join him on each day.

I love watching Mac "growl" at striped cats on his Baby Einstein video because he thinks they are tigers. And I really love that his first animal noise, rather than "moo" for cow or "quack" for duck, was "grr" for our Tigers. Even if "grr" sounds more like radio static, I'll take it!

This boy is nonstop entertainment for me, rain or shine, and has kept me busy beyond busy so far this year. I promise to start blogging more about what we're up to and all the new things in store for 2011. So much to chat about, so little down time!

Hope you all survived the snow and are praying, like me, for a very warm, very early spring.

January 5, 2011

More Ways You Know You're An Adult

1. You intend to ring in 2011 quietly (unless you count snoring) but end up laughing 'til 3 a.m. with your handsome husband. It's among your favorite New Years on record.

2. You then pay for your late night by stumbling blearily through January 1st. How did I ever function with a newborn?

3. You eagerly await the arrival of your toddler's new car seat - he's outgrown his first and the buckling in process is even less fun than normal. So unfun, in fact, that you have been known to use Cheerios as a "shock and awe" distraction method. Food bribes - not a good sign.

4. On a shopping expedition to pick up a new carseat, you find the same model for $40 less on Amazon - plus free shipping and no tax, to boot. You put the big box store's car seat back on the shelf and skip to the parking lot, where you order it giddily online. This online sleuth-saving seriously makes your weekend.

5. When the long-awaited carseat arrives, the UPS gal catches sight of you dance-cleaning the entryway to Robin Thicke's "Magic" before ringing the doorbell. You have only a twinge of shame.

6. In said cleaning frenzy, you lean on your Swiffer so hard scrubbing the bathroom floor that it begins to bend. Your first thought, rather than ,"How did I become this cleaning maniac?" is "Is it time for one of those steam clean things?" I suppose this is what online shopping means to a grown-up.

7. You ponder putting together a cleaning playlist to allow the dance-Swiffering to continue at its frenzied best.

8. What kicked off this cleaning frenzy? The sad state of your post-holidays house, which makes January even more depressing than the "no more toys?" days after Christmas as a child. Tissue paper in corners and a stocking-less mantle kickstart a race to be dust- and dirt-free.

9. The blessed, beautiful time of day called naptime becomes a race to return emails, take care of work, clean (slash dance), eat and (more honestly) chat on Twitter.

10. When your husband calls on his way home, you scramble to a mirror for a last minute concealer/mascara makeover - and hope he sports some "love goggles" to blind him from the rest of you.

Happy 2011, y'all! I hope you're not feeling and acting as old as I am this week.

While I haven't made too many resolutions, I have made it to the gym three times so far this year - with one more visit lined up tomorrow. I'll celebrate every accomplishment I can!

And try not to judge the dance-cleaning 'til you try it!


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